Divine Democracy: Political Theology after Carl Schmitt
Product details:

No. of pages:308 pages
Size:159x241x22 mm
Weight:567 g

Divine Democracy

Political Theology after Carl Schmitt
Publisher: OUP USA
Date of Publication:
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Short description:

Why has religion become such a politically contested issue in the late 20th century? In liberal democracies the state is meant to be neutral towards religious beliefs and rituals of its citizens; the legal system is supposed to decide about guilt or innocence without religious prejudice. Political theology is a discourse developed during the 20th century that questions these widely held assumptions. It studies how political and legal concepts were derived from theological ones, dissolving the connection between the public sphere and secularism, and bringing religion out from the private sphere and into democratic life. This book examines to what extent contemporary democracy rests on theological assumptions.

Long description:
How secular are the political and legal concepts that underpin liberal democracy? Carl Schmitt first coined the term political theology to show the dependency of modern western jurisprudence and political science on Christian theological discourse, and in so doing criticized the claim to religious neutrality of liberal institutions. In this book, Miguel Vatter reconstructs how and why the discourse of political theology was adopted and repurposed by anti-Schmittian thinkers, from Eric Voegelin through Jacques Maritain and Ernst Kantorowicz to Jürgen Habermas, to bolster the legitimacy of liberal democratic government. The book traces the way in which crucial political concepts for liberal democracy--including sovereignty, representation, government, constitutionalism, human rights, and public reason--are transformed when they become part of a discourse on political theology. Vatter's aim is to provide an intellectual history of political theology in the 20th century. His study reveals the overdetermined role that religion plays in contemporary democratic political and legal theory as an ultimate source of legitimacy for government and as wellspring for revolutionary aspirations.

The book shows Vatter's great knowledge of many different registers of political thought from the Middle Ages through the modern world to post-modernity. It is difficult to handle such a broad spectrum of knowledge without error, as he does. Moreover, the book's discussion includes all the relevant bibliography on the theological-political question from the twentieth century, so it is an excellent resource. This is undoubtedly a mature book, the fruit of years of work.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Political Theology and Democratic Legitimacy in the 20th Century
Chapter 1: Carl Schmitt and Sovereignty
Chapter 2: Eric Voegelin and Representation
Chapter 3: Jacques Maritain and Human Rights
Chapter 4: Ernst Kantorowicz and Government
Chapter 5: Jürgen Habermas and Public Reason
Conclusion: "Only a god can resist god." Gnosticism and Political Theology